Malcolm X doors find home at Cultural Center
By Lily Martinez
In addition to attending Harold Washington College, I am proud and humbled to attend an institution named after civil rights activist and black nationalist, Malcolm X. Time and time again, professors have said that the colleges that make up the City Colleges of Chicago are some of the most diverse communities we will take part in during our lifetime.
Before the building’s remodeling, those who came through the doors of Malcolm X College once saw a depiction of diversity in culture, an experience that evoked a sense of empowerment, imparted by its creator, Eugene Eda Wade.
Eda was well-known for his participation in the rendering of the Wall of Respect and the Wall of Truth–two famous murals once erected on Chicago’s South Side to capture Black community and culture. Thereafter, during the late 1970’s, a woman named Rosa Moore approached Wade and another muralist named William Walker, seeking out their collaboration in painting the doors of Malcolm X College. Wade ended up taking on the job himself.
He painted renderings of Black culture upon 32 doors that once stood in the halls of Malcolm X. Unfortunately, the doors have since been taken away after the building’s remodeling. They are now being displayed in Chicago’s Cultural Center.
As a free exhibit to the public, the doors not only illustrate Eda’s skill, but they present the story of Blacks in the United States, and the culture they had before their forcible entry into this country. To symbolize the beginning of this history, one set of two doors depict Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Other sets of doors use symbols taken from West Africa and Sankofa, made to represent concepts such as family, loyalty, and traditional masculinity and femininity. Many of these doors do a spin on traditional symbols and hieroglyphics and incorporate Black aesthetics and images of family.
There are doors created to convey Black power and the challenge of survival. They contain images of the raising of Black fists, and of Black men and women uniting as one. Directly mirroring this set of doors, another set shows a man kneeling down to a needle and bottle. This image invokes a painful insight into Black lives, incarcerated physically and emotionally.
Once the paintings were removed from the stairwells of Malcolm X, CCC’s own Professor Michelle Perkins helped curate a new exhibit in the halls of the Cultural Center. With Black History Month already having passed, I strongly encourage all students to head on over to the exhibit so they can experience the masterful work of Eugene Eda Wade for themselves.